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Grief – how long is too long?

Grief – how long is too long?

There are major individual differences in reaction and adaptations to the loss of a loved one. This depends on a many factors such as the complexity of the relationship, the closeness in the relationship, the way in which the death occurred, the perceived support provided by others and personality factors.


Religions and cultures give guidelines on what to do and when to do when a loved one passes away but rarely do they give you a how to guide to process your grief.


There is no correct time frame for someone to grieve the loss of a loved one.


Prolonged grief is the most common form of complicated grief in adults. It is different from normal grief in that the immediate grief reactions persist with undiminished strength, beyond what is expected in light of cultural and religious norms. This causes a considerable loss of everyday functioning and may include not being able to care for themselves or possibly their children.


Someone experiencing prolonged grief may have difficulty accepting the death of a loved one; they may feel as if they have lost a part of themselves, they may identify and dramatise themselves as a widow or widower and they are either emotional numb or emotional volatile making it difficult for them to continue with their lives as previously.


Prolonged grief disorder is not the same as depression; the difference is in thoughts and emotions that continue to circle around the loved ones passing. In a depressed state, feelings are more generalised and less associated with the loss of the loved one with intense feelings of sadness, hopelessness, helplessness and worthlessness.


Sleep disturbances are common in both prolonged grief and depression. However, pronounced weight loss, slowness in thinking, speaking and moving and difficulty in making decisions are prominent in depression and less likely to be evident in prolonged grief.


Suicidal thoughts occur in both prolonged grief and depression. In prolonged grief, this will often be associated with a wish to be reunited with their loved one, and in depression, thoughts of ending life will commonly be more associated with the irrational belief that people would be better off without them.


As prolonged grief and depression often occur in parallel, it is advisable that you connect with a medical practioner in order to get the correct support, guidance and possible medical intervention.


THERE IS HELP AVAIALBLE, connect with a friend today!

Depression – the silent killer

Depression – the silent killer

Depression is described as a long-lasting and often all-encompassing mental health condition that may be caused by genetics and unbalanced brain chemistry.


Many people wrongly assume that difficult, stressful and traumatic events alone may trigger depression. In many individuals irregular brain chemistry relates into depression without identifiable situational causes. This brain chemistry or the biochemical processes that control the neurotransmitters that regulate mood, sometimes malfunction without an apparent reason, leading to depression.


A combination of symptoms lasting more than two weeks might indicate a mental health condition. But above everything else the feeling of I’m just tired of being so tired is an indicator that you will benefit from support.


Research has found that more than one third of people who struggle with depression don’t seek help at all. That is why depression is often referred to as the silent killer; people don’t seek help and in some instances die by depression – meaning they commit suicide.


IT’S A BIG DEAL – the struggle is real. Depression has more than just an effect on your emotions like angry outbursts, irritability, or restlessness. It also leads to isolation, you avoid family, friends and activities they you previously enjoyed. The feelings of being sad, empty, numb, hopeless, helpless or worthless overwhelm you all the time, regardless of any positive inputs around you.


The following signs are an indication that you should seek medical support:

Unrelenting tiredness, reduction in energy levels, change in eating habits or sleeping patterns

Unusually poor concentration, memory, ability to think clearly, inability to complete tasks or slow or sudden poor work performance

Body pain with no temperature, inflammation or injury

Thoughts or plans to kill or hurt yourself or others

Thoughts or plans to just run away


Many people today deal with unusual physical, emotional, social and psychological changes all at once. These stresses, genetics, unbalanced brain chemistry, social structures, crime and unrealistic expectations all seem to contribute to depression.


Overall, one in seventeen people suffer from “Major Depressive Disorder” at some point in their lives, according to a recent study and book (A guide to helping yourself or a friend – Written by: Asher Low, B.SW, R.SW), and the number of people diagnosed with depression right now is over 350 MILLION, making depression the leading cause of disability in the world.  


THERE IS HELP AVAILABLE! Feeling or being depressed is no longer the end of the road. The world we live in is getting more and supportive every day. NEXT STEP – speak to someone about your feelings or call the free, confidential SADAG Suicide Crisis line on 0800 567 567 or call the SADAG Mental Health line on 011 234 4837.


What is a Psychosis or Psychotic disorder?

What is a Psychosis or Psychotic disorder?

Psychosis or a Psychotic disorder is a group of serious illnesses that affect the mind. They make it hard for someone to think clearly, make good judgments, respond emotionally, communicate effectively, understand reality, and behave appropriately.

In a Psychosis or Pschychotic disorder a person may expierence hallucinations where they see, hear, taste, feel things that are not real, while a person could have a delusion which is a belief that is not real or correct. Both hallucinations and delusions are disturbances in reality. When caused by a mental illness, hallucinations and delusions often occur together.

Brief psychotic disorder: People with this illness have a sudden, short period of psychotic behaviour, often in response to a very stressful event, such as a death in the family. Recovery is often quick — usually less than a month.

Delusional disorder : The key symptom is having a delusion (a false, fixed belief) involving a real-life situation that could be true but isn’t, such as being followed, being plotted against, or having a disease.

Examples of Delusional Disorders:

Erotomanic: The person believes someone is in love with them and might try to contact that person. Often it’s someone important or famous. This can lead to stalking behavior.

Grandiose: This person has an over-inflated sense of worth, power, knowledge, or identity. They could believe they have a great talent, are superior or made an important discovery.

Jealous: A person with this type believes their spouse or sexual partner is unfaithful.

Persecutory: Someone who has this believes they (or someone close to them) are being mistreated, or that someone is spying on them or planning to harm them. They might make repeated complaints to legal authorities.

Somatic: They believe they have a physical defect or medical problem.

Mixed: These people have two or more of the types of delusions listed above.

Shared psychotic disorder (also called folie à deux): This illness happens when one person in a relationship has a delusion and the other person in the relationship adopts it, too.

Substance-induced psychotic disorder: This condition is caused by the use of or withdrawal from drugs, such as hallucinogens and crack cocaine, which cause hallucinations, delusions, or confused speech.

There are different types of psychotic disorders, including:

Schizophrenia: People with this illness have changes in behaviour and other symptoms — such as delusions and hallucinations — that last longer than 6 months. It usually affects them at work as well as their relationships.

Schizoaffective disorder: People have symptoms of both schizophrenia and a mood disorder, such as depression or bipolar disorder.

Schizophreniform disorder: This includes symptoms of schizophrenia, but the symptoms last for a shorter time: between 1 and 6 months.

Doctors don’t know the exact cause of psychotic disorders. Researchers believe that many things play a role. Some psychotic disorders tend to run in families, which mean that the disorder may be partly inherited. Other things may also influence their development, including stress, drug abuse, and major life changes. These conditions usually first appear when a person is in his or her late teens, 20s, or 30s. They tend to affect men and women about equally.

If you or a loved one are experiencing severe symptoms and you have trouble staying in touch with reality – please make an appointment to see a Psychiatrist who will support your mental health care.

Thoughts of Suicide – how to get help!

Thoughts of Suicide – how to get help!

Teen suicide is becoming more common every year in South Africa. In fact only car accidents and homicide kill more youth between the ages of 15 and 24. In South Africa 9% of all teen deaths are caused by suicide. The fastest growing age is young people under 35, specifically female suicides which peak between 15 to 19 years.

Research indicates that although more females attempt suicide, more males succeed. This is due to the more violent nature males select. Girls are more likely to overdose on medication, or take chemicals, whereas boys often find access to firearms or hang themselves.

There is a major link between Depression and Suicide. Most of the time teen depression is a passing mood. Sadness, loneliness, grief and disappointments we all feel at times, and are normal reactions to life’s struggles. However undiagnosed depression can lead to tragedy. Up to one third of all suicide victims had attempted suicide previously.

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) answer the National Toll Free Suicide Crisis Line which takes a huge number of calls from teens who are calling for themselves or on behalf of a friend. This line has already saved thousand of lives, and with funding from Foundations, the Department of Mental Health and World Bank. This program not only encourages teens to come forward but also tells them where to go for help in their own community and how to contact the Suicide Line. There is help and we show them all their options. With treatment, over 70% can make a recovery.

Skilled counsellors support the lines (0800 567 567) and encourage teens to get professional help, to talk to an adult they trust, to go to a doctor, or talk to a church leader.

The fact that huge numbers of young people still take their own lives spurs on our teachers, educators, police, clinics, churches, NGO’s, community based organisations, youth and support groups to even greater efforts to improve education, reduce stigma and halt this increase and realise that Mental Health Matters.


  • Loss of interest in things you like to do
  • Sadness that won’t go away
  • Irritability or feeling angry a lot


  • Feeling guilty or hopeless
  • Not enjoying things you once liked
  • Feeling tense or worrying a lot
  • Crying a lot
  • Spending a lot of time alone
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Having low energy or restless feelings
  • Feeling tired a lot
  • Missing school a lot
  • Hard time making decisions
  • Having trouble thinking or paying attention
  • Thinking of dying or killing yourself

Take a look at the list above and check the things that describe your thoughts, feelings or actions in the last two weeks, if you have more than 2 of these signs and have thoughts of hurting yourself or others, please contact the free SADAG 24 hour suicide crisis helpline 0800 567 567 for immediate support.

Mental Health in South Africa

Mental Health in South Africa

A SPECIAL Sunday Times investigation has uncovered the shocking state of mental health in South Africa. One third of all South Africans have mental illnesses — and 75% of them will not get any kind of help. More than 17 million people in South Africa are dealing with depression, substance abuse, anxiety, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia — illnesses that round out the top five mental health diagnoses, according to the Mental Health Federation of South Africa.

Despite the high number, the Department of Health annually spends only 4% — or R9.3-billion — of its budget to address the crisis. An overwhelming 48% of new mothers suffer from Post Natal Depression. Nearly 2,000 Adolescent Girls in South Africa are infected with HIV each week, South Africa has the biggest HIV epidemic in the world, with 7.1 million people living with HIV — 43% of whom also have a mental disorder.

Only 1% of beds in psychiatric wards are reserved for children or adolescents, which results in a one-month wait for a place. There is a severe lack of facilities for children suffering from mental health problems. Kids end up in the system because families can’t cope any longer. They’re often advised to report the child for a crime; otherwise they can’t get them into a mental facility.

For adolescents and young men, 16 to 25 years of age is the “peak time” during which schizophrenia, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and bipolar conditions become apparent.

There are 22 psychiatric hospitals in South Africa and 36 psychiatric wards in general hospitals. Currently, 85% of psychologists are in private practice, leaving 14% for the servicing of the population. Between 1% and 2% of people with a mental illness were classified as having a serious pathology, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. The remainder had disorders such as depression, anxiety and substance dependency.

The prevalence of mental disorder could be attributed to factors such as:
• The large number of children orphaned by diseases such as HIV/Aids;
• Soldiers who returned to civilian life without psychological and social assistance;
• The number of people severely tortured by the apartheid regime;
• People who worked long hours and were away from their homes and families for extended periods; and
• Children who had received minimal bonding and love from their parents

The introduction of national health insurance, which would give people access to private healthcare services, would go a long way towards correcting this, but looks only likely in 2025. Indirect cost of untreated mental disorders outweighed the direct treatment cost by a factor of almost six.

In the first nationally representative survey of mental disorders in South Africa, lost earnings among adults with severe mental illness amounted to R28.8-billion [in 2002]. But direct spending on adult mental healthcare was only about R470-million.

“In short, it costs more not to treat mental illness than to treat it.”